After the initial surge of "panic-buying" amid the coronavirus pandemic, many people are wondering when stores will restock essentials like hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Thankfully, the shopping experts at The Krazy Coupon Lady have laid out the most useful information about stocking up efficiently in these troubled times.
For the last week or two, stores have been posting apologetic signs on empty shelves, and news stations have been showing footage of frantic crowds gathering in stores, buying up home essentials in bulk. Economic experts have warned against "panic-buying" and "hoarding," saying there is no logical reason for there to be shortages of these products. Nevertheless, there are many who are desperately waiting for their local stores to restock toilet paper, or other home goods.
Exactly when an individual location will receive shipments of these products varies from place to place, and is typically known only to the staff and the delivery drivers. Still, there are some good general tips on how to shop in a time like this, and how to plan for scarcity and restocks.
Here is what you need to know about finding toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other goods during the coronavirus pandemic.
Retail vs. Delivery
According to The Krazy Coupon Lady, most big box stores and supermarkets will prioritize delivery orders and pickup orders over restocking the shelves. This means that when they get a new shipment, they'll set aside the amount ordered ahead of time before putting the rest out in the store. If you need to guarantee your supply of certain items, consider using Walmart's in-store pickup option or another similar service.
If you are going to go into a store hoping to find what you need, consider going first thing in the morning, as close to opening time as possible. Stores will typically restock the shelves before opening, and this will give you the best range of options — and perhaps the least competition from other shoppers as well.
According to The Krazy Coupon Lady, all of Walmart's 24-hour locations have changed their hours to 6 a.m. through 11 p.m., giving them more time to clean and restock overnight. Costco, meanwhile, reportedly gets shipments around 4 a.m., and most locations say they are now getting near-daily deliveries. Target is the same, restocking overnight and then throughout the day as needed.
While the supply may be catching up to the demand, experts warn that many stores will likely still be enforcing quantity restrictions on key items — especially toilet paper and hand sanitizer. They also said to keep an eye on changing return policies, as some stores are altering their rules to reflect the tendency towards panic-buying.
Experts stressed that there is no reason to expect a toilet paper shortage in the near future. They said that households should keep no more than two to four weeks' worth of toilet paper on hand at a time, as anything else could be considered hoarding, which could effect the availability for others. Today published a study on how to calculate the amount of toilet paper needed for your home.
Sadly, hand sanitizer shortages may continue for some time. According to Nielsen, hand sanitizer sales were up by 470 percent last week, and it will take a while for the industry to catch up. There are ways of making your own hand sanitizer with household ingredients, but it is worth remember that the CDC recommends washing your hands with soap an water over hand sanitizer, when you can.
Furhter out on the supply chain, manufacturers are reportedly ramping up their efforts to meet the increased demand for cleaning products. According to a report by The New York Times, many factories are moving to 24-hour schedules to make their products around the clock. Some are also reducing the range of their offerings, such as bleach companies making just one size bottle with no added scents.
Finally, if there are particular products you and your family are waiting on, Amazon allows users to set restock alerts so they know exactly when they can buy a fresh supply. Find the product you need on Amazon and choose the "Email Me" option, that way you can place an order as soon as possible. On Tuesday, Amazon announced that it is suspending restocks on all "non-essential" products for nearly three weeks in the hopes of meeting the needs of the outbreak.
For the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the CDC's website.